Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Northeast Trail System

Area Status: Open
View of cliffs in Sycamore Canyon at the bottom of Little L.O. Trail (2015)

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Sycamore Canyon is the second largest canyon is Arizona and offers hikers plenty of solitude and natural beauty. Sycamore Canyon Wilderness was Arizona's first Wilderness Area, designated in 1972. The trails in the upper part of the canyon are accessed from Flagstaff, Arizona, and are mainly at higher elevations, primarily in forests of pine, oak, and juniper. The canyon is marked by colorful cliffs, soaring pinnacles, and desert riparian areas. It is home to black bear and mountain lions, as well as many other creatures. The Wilderness falls within the Prescott, Kaibab, and Coconino National Forests. The Coconino National Forest manages the canyon on the east side of Sycamore Creek. 

Sycamore Canyon can be very hot and dry during the summer months. There are several springs located near the northeastern Wilderness trails which normally have water year round, but hikers should not depend on this water being available. All ground water should always be treated or filtered. There is plenty of shade along all of the trails as you descend into Sycamore Canyon through a thick forest of ponderosa pine, Gambel oak, and juniper trees. The lower part of Winter Cabin Trail and part of Kelsey Trail takes you through chaparral type vegetation which offers spectacular views of Sycamore Canyon.

The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Northeast Trail System within the Flagstaff Ranger District consists of five trails with a combined mileage of 11.3 miles with the longest trail being 5.6 miles. These trails include:

Each trail is suitable for day hikes or longer overnight loop hikes. Winter Cabin joins up with Sycamore Basin Trail on the Prescott National Forest. Visit the Prescott National Forest Sycamore Canyon Wilderness page for additional information about trails on the western side of Sycamore Creek.

The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Southeast Trails are on the Red Rock Ranger District.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: During the winter, roads leading into the area are closed to vehicles. Road closures.
Usage: Light
Best Season: May thru November
Closest Towns: Flagstaff, AZ
Operated By: Flagstaff Ranger District - 928-526-0866
Information Center: List and description of Sycamore Canyon Trails on the Flagstaff District

General Information


Location: Southwest of Flagstaff, Arizona

Access: See individual trail descriptions for driving directions. Access to the trailheads is by dirt roads which can be extremely rough and even impassable during monsoon season and winter months due to mud and heavy snow.


  • Kelsey Trailhead (Map): 35°04'28.3"N 111°55'47.1"W
  • Dorsey Spring Trailhead (Map): 35°03'17.1"N 111°55'11.9"W
  • Winter Cabin Trailhead (Map): 35°01'20.5"N 111°55'21.7"W



Click on map thumbnail for a larger view.

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Trail System Map


General Notes:

Length: The five trails in this system have a total length of 11.3 miles, with the longest trail at 5.6 miles.

Rating: Mostly moderate with a few short strenuous sections


  • No mechanized vehicles including bicycles in the Wilderness.
  • Fire danger is usually high - be careful with campfires.
  • Camp at least 200 feet from springs and bury human waste 200 feet from springs. Pack out all trash.

Leave No Trace: Recognize your role in preserving wild lands by practicing these Leave No Trace principles:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of other visitors.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Horse Riding

Recreation areas with activity Horse Riding:

These trails are recommended for hiking (backpacking) and horseback riding. Most of these trails have steep or very narrow passages and therefore, only "experienced trail horses" should be used for horseback riding.

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
11.3 miles total for Flagstaff District Trails

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
4800 - 6898 at Winter TH